Peter Scholtes believed that providing joy in work is a key part of creating successful organizations. His work was heavily influenced by his friend and colleague W. Edwards Deming. He authored many articles and two seminal books for today’s organizations: The Leader’s Handbook and the Team Handbook. He asserted that in an age of increasing complexity, too many leaders resort to simplistic approaches which are not effective long term. Both books contain practical advice and activities to promote success by applying the PDSA Cycle and The Deming System of Profound Knowledge® (SoPK).
The Team Handbook has been embraced by millions as the gold standard for people working with teams all over the world. It contains examples, exercises, and worksheets to assist teams in process improvement efforts. It also provides the ability to download electronic versions of worksheets and template to help to ensure the right tools are utilized at the proper point in the PDSA Cycle.
Peter Scholtes’ book, The Leader’s Handbook, weaves together a holistic and integrated philosophy of leadership as well as several practical tools and approaches. Each chapter includes questions and activities for those who want to integrate the message of this book into their thinking and activities, thoughtful leaders from many types of organizations will find useful insights and guidance. He also describes several new competencies by looking through the lens of SoPK:
- Systems Thinking: Helping people to understand the larger contexts of work.
- Statistical Thinking: The intelligent use of data is how we can understand our systems, predict future performance, plan, select priorities and solve problems. Without data we see trends where there are none, miss real trends and give credit or blame to people for results that are truly beyond their control.
- Understanding Human Behavior: We are simplistic about people: we look for heroes to reward or culprits to punish. We believe we know how to motivate people when we cannot. We create elaborate incentive plans that ultimately make things worse.
- Understanding Learning and Improvement: How do we know that a proposed change will result in improvement? Simplistic approaches seldom ask the question, neither before nor after the change is introduced.
- Understanding Interactions: Performance results from the interaction of various events and factors. Leadership requires understanding these interactions.
- Giving the Organization Direction and Focus: Simplistic leadership seeks to direct and control people. It is paramount to learn to give direction and focus to the organization while working with people to control the flow of work.